What do you get when you pair a bunch of MIT students with acclaimed French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud? You get a restaurant serving food cooked by robots, that’s what. When Spyce debuts on May 3 at 241 Washington St. in Boston’s Downtown Crossing, customers will get the chance to eat bowls of robot-prepared food.
The idea for the fully automated kitchen came to the crew behind Spyce when they were studying at MIT. According to Grace Uvezian, Spyce’s head of marketing and public relations, Spyce was born out of a desire to provide all people, income notwithstanding, with nutritious and affordable food.
“Our purpose is to increase access to wholesome and delicious food for people at all income levels,” said Uvezian. “When our founders were undergraduates at MIT, they couldn’t afford to spend $10 to $12 on one meal and knew they weren’t alone. Too many people were being priced out of quality. Spyce is at the intersection of hospitality and technology; by combining appropriately sourced ingredients with our robotic kitchen, we’re able to provide meals at $7.50.”
Boulud’s involvement came about after the team pitched him via email — he agreed to invest, and he acts as culinary director for the restaurant. He also helped bring in one of his former employees, Sam Benson, as executive chef.
Boulud and Benson shape the menu, testing recipes and creating dishes. Spyce’s menu (see the opening version below) is heavy on vegetables, and everything is served bowl-style. There are vegetarian, pescatarian, and vegan options.
“Our food is wholesome, nutritious, and packed with exciting flavor combinations highlighting vegetables’ rich flavors and textures,” said Uvezian.
The entire experience at Spyce, from start to finish, requires customers to interact with technology. Order on a touch screen, and then wait as a robot makes your Moroccan bowl. Spyce does accept cash, though; cash is still king, even among robots. (There will be some human employees to help guide customers through the ordering process, if need be, and people will also do some tasks that the robots cannot, such as prepping ingredients and garnishing the finished plates.)
Every meal is ready in three minutes or less, and every meal is made to order. Spyce is a fast-casual spot, so much of the business will be takeout. But the space will have 15 seats for those who want to eat among the robots.
Once Spyce opens next week, it will be open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The next time you’re headed to the theater — or trying to score a cheap Le Creuset at TJ Maxx — stop by Spyce and get a literal taste of the future.